I love South Indian food, in fact it is one of the reasons I really miss living in India. I was introduced to South Indian food a few years ago when I travelled to Kanyakumari, the very tip of India where the Indian ocean, the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal meet and have never looked back. The taste of various freshly made dosa, idly, wada, or uttapam with spicy chutney and sambhar is now for me a breakfast (or lunch) second to none. Along the way I visited various towns and villages such as Mangalore, Mysore, Vijayanagara, Hampi, and Thiruvananthapuram, amongst others. All of theses places having their own specialties and providing their own slight differences to the standard fare of the south.
Nothing else tastes the same or can be compared. The simple food outlets have a only a few items on the menu, that when run out is over for the day. Larger places or those in the bigger metro cities usually have a more extensive array of food and variety, often including Indian/ Chinese dishes and non veg dishes.
I have never before had South Indian food that tastes quite the same outside of India. The sensation and flavour is never quite the same, the ambience not there and the disappointment of not quite getting the taste I crave hangs around. That is until I found Tooting, well actually Dosa n Chutny in Tooting. The whole ambience is South India, the place is scrubbed clean , but the paint is ever so slightly peeling, the menu reads like 1000’s of other non veg South Indian restaurant menus and when the food arrives I am sent straight back to one of the unpronounceable villages in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka or Kerala.
My personal favourites at Dosa n Chutny, apart from the staple dosa and idli is the Chettinadu fish curry that has the lingering taste of Tamil Nadu and is even more delicious when mopped up with a veechu parotha. The spicy prawn thokku with juicy prawns and a thick masala sauce is a taste sensation in itself, making my eyes water and prompting me to order another sweet lassi to cool my mouth before taking another bite.
There is of course a few Londonisms, the waiters all wear shoes, the tables are wiped with a popular antibacterial spay n wipe instead of soapy water , the water in the jug provided is safe enough to drink and the prices reflect the local economy, albeit excellent value for money. The clientele on the few times I have been seems to be expat South Indian’s, maybe hankering for tastes of home and a good mix of people that come from all over the globe and make London the melting pot that it is.
I like this place, I have to travel a long way from North London to get there and to date have not been disappointed. Simple and delicious or simply delicious.
Photos from Dosa n Chutny website